NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA. – Marple Newtown is eyeing up another Central Athletic League crown in 2017 as they gear up for what is to be another deep postseason run.
There is no doubt that head coach Chris Gicking and his squad have caught the attention of those around the Central League.
The Tigers compiled an 11-2 record (most wins in a single season) to go along with a pair of playoff victories a season ago. Additionally, they brought home a share of the Central League title for the first time since 1977.
This winning mentality has certainly revamped Marple Newtown’s football program by posting playoff victories in back-to-back seasons.
“We want to take another step forward as a team and program,” Gicking stated.
The head coach believes that the squad has to learn from from every game and get better.
Gicking’s high-flying offense produced 32 points per game and the most in a single season in program history (411) last fall. The scary part is that they may even be more explosive this season as several key players are returning.
The focus revolves around quarterback Anthony Paoletti, who has already committed to attend the University of Delaware next year.
God Has A Plan 🙌🏼…Honored to say I am 100% committed to the University Of Delaware 🏈 #BlueHens ‼️ pic.twitter.com/HrwceiSiBt
— Anthony Paoletti (@paoletti236) July 11, 2017
Paoletti, in two short years, has broken school records while also claiming the Delaware County single-season passing yardage record along the way.
“He is everything you want in a football player, quarterback, and young man,” Gicking mentioned when talking about Paoletti.
With several records already in his possession, Paoletti will look to score even more records this year for the Tigers.
The senior is not a stranger to all the attention, but he did place an emphasis on how he would not be the player he is today without the support and trust of his teammates.
Paoletti and Gicking made it clear that expectations heading into the season are high with a vast amount of experience returning.
“Our mindset this offseason and summer was to prepare for a deep run in the playoffs,” Paoletti said. “We know the feeling of last year’s ending at Academy Park and have worked to change the outcome.”
Improvement from his junior campaign would be quite a statement considering that Paoletti registered a 159.74 quarterback rating to go along with 2,739 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.
Paoletti was a threat on the ground as well, using his 6-2, 210-pound frame to rush for 239 yards in addition to nine touchdowns.
Despite all the statistics, it may be Paoletti’s leadership that is the most essential part for the Tigers. He loves being in a leadership role as he expresses his opinions and thoughts to get everyone on the same page.
Marple Newtown’s quarterback was in sync with multiple players last season, but nobody more than Cameron Mathes.
The duo produced over 1,000-yards together, including this spectacular play to seal a victory over host Haverford.
IYMI: Paoletti to Mathes for 30 yds & a TD to go up 26-13 with 36 sec. left in 4th. Call by @DavidDiPasquaJr & @SteviFranchise. #TigerPride pic.twitter.com/BUOaxbweRm
— Tigers Radio Network (@MNTigers) October 16, 2016
Now that Mathes has graduated (Villanova University), the attention has shifted to second team All-Delco wide receiver Dash Dulgerian.
Statistically, Dulgerian was not too far behind Mathes and will look to take on a larger role this season (42 catches, 888 yards, 10 TDs).
Other names to keep an eye on through the air include Reilly Fillman in addition to Alden Mathes.
However, do not be fooled as Marple Newtown does not solely rely on the passing attack. With two full seasons under his belt, expect Marlon Weathers to be a force in his junior campaign on the ground.
Weathers eclipsed over 1,000 yards (6.0 yards per carry) and registered 16 touchdowns as a sophomore.
One of the most exciting plays of the season came off a 94-yard score against Strath Haven to clinch a share of the league title.
Before we #FlyEaglesFly enjoy our longest play from scrimmage by Marlon Weathers v. Strath Haven. Call by @DavidDiPasquaJr & @SteviFranchise pic.twitter.com/JRvYb3wsiu
— Tigers Radio Network (@MNTigers) October 31, 2016
Clearing the way upfront for plays such as that are the big offensive linemen.
Paoletti noted that the line has a good amount of depth and have been working hard. Keeping the quarterback upright are the likes of Kevin Hahn, Mike Shelly, James Diamond, and Mike Miller.
Defensively, Marple Newtown returns size in the trenches with Kyle Tobin as well as Miller. Controlling the line of scrimmage and getting after the quarterback will be a strength for the Tigers.
Tobin was second on the team in sacks and tackles, only trailing Cooper Maas in 2016. Miller on the other hand contributed 56 tackles and tied Tobin with 18.5 tackles for loss.
Anchoring the middle will be junior AJ Katrakazis, who gained valuable experience as a sophomore by chipping in 52 total tackles.
At outside linebacker will be senior Luke Cantwell, who was sixth on the team last fall with 49 tackles.
A key departure in the secondary was Carmen Christiana, but expect a few new players to step up into a leadership role on the back end. Anticipate Dulgerian to contribute at the strong safety position for the Tigers.
Marple Newtown travels down to the Sunshine State to open up the regular season against Florida High School at the Wide World of Sports Complex. Kickoff is set for Friday, August 25th at 6 p.m.
Live coverage of the game will be provided by the Tigers Radio Network.